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Astronomy news. New! Earth-like extrasolar planet found; double helix nebula; supermassive black holes, astronomy articles, astronomy pictures. Updated daily.
Updated: 1 hour 29 min ago

Dawn of a galactic collision

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 2:07pm
A riot of color and light dances through this peculiarly shaped galaxy, NGC 5256. Its smoke-like plumes are flung out in all directions and the bright core illuminates the chaotic regions of gas and dust swirling through the galaxy's center. Its odd structure is due to the fact that this is not one galaxy, but two -- in the process of a galactic collision.

Doing without dark energy

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 10:08am
Three mathematicians have a different explanation for the accelerating expansion of the universe that does without theories of 'dark energy.' Einstein's original equations for General Relativity actually predict cosmic acceleration due to an 'instability,' they argue in a new paper.

Spanning disciplines in the search for life beyond Earth

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 12:47pm
Following a gold rush of exoplanet discovery, the next step in the search for life is determining which of the known exoplanets are proper candidates for life -- and for this, a cross-disciplinary approach is essential.

Mars mission sheds light on habitability of distant planets

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 12:47pm
Insights from NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, mission about the loss of the Red Planet's atmosphere can help scientists understand the habitability of rocky planets orbiting other stars.

Giant storms cause palpitations in Saturn's atmospheric heartbeat

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 12:00pm
Immense northern storms on Saturn can disturb atmospheric patterns at the planet's equator, finds the international Cassini mission.

Stellar nursery blooms into view

Wed, 12/13/2017 - 9:55am
The OmegaCAM camera on ESO's VLT Survey Telescope has captured this glittering view of the stellar nursery called Sharpless 29. Many astronomical phenomena can be seen in this giant image, including cosmic dust and gas clouds that reflect, absorb, and re-emit the light of hot young stars within the nebula.

Bright areas on Ceres suggest geologic activity

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 5:10pm
If you could fly aboard NASA's Dawn spacecraft, the surface of dwarf planet Ceres would generally look quite dark, but with notable exceptions. These exceptions are the hundreds of bright areas that stand out in images Dawn has returned. Now, scientists have a better sense of how these reflective areas formed and changed over time -- processes indicative of an active, evolving world.

Hubble's celestial snow globe

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 2:19pm
It's beginning to look a lot like the holiday season in this Hubble Space Telescope image of a blizzard of stars, which resembles a swirling snowstorm in a snow globe. The stars are residents of the globular star cluster Messier 79 (also known as M79 or NGC 1904), located 41,000 light-years from Earth, in the constellation Lepus.

Electrical and chemical coupling between Saturn and its rings

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 2:17pm
A Langmuir probe, flown to Saturn on the Cassini spacecraft, has made exciting discoveries in the atmosphere of the planet. They discovered that there is a strong coupling, both chemically and electrically, between the atmosphere of Saturn and its rings.

Telescopes team up to study giant galaxy

Tue, 12/12/2017 - 9:10am
Astronomers have used two Australian radio telescopes and several optical telescopes to study complex mechanisms that are fuelling jets of material blasting away from a black hole 55 million times more massive than the Sun.

Eclipse 2017: Science from the moon's shadow

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 2:04pm
While people across North America took in the Aug. 21 eclipse, hundreds of citizen, student, and professional scientists were collecting scientific data, and their efforts are beginning to return results.

Cold suns, warm exoplanets and methane blankets

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 12:03pm
Three million years ago, the sun shone weaker, but Earth stayed surprisingly warm. Carl Sagan thought a greenhouse effect must have been to thank. A model built on 359 chemical processes has finally arrived at scenarios with a reasonable chance of producing the needed methane on ancient Earth. The model has broad parameters in hope that it may someday be of use to interpret conditions on exoplanets.

Galaxy orbits in the local supercluster

Fri, 12/08/2017 - 9:55am
Astronomers have produced the most detailed map ever of the orbits of galaxies in our extended local neighborhood, showing the past motions of almost 1,400 galaxies within 100 million light years of the Milky Way. The team reconstructed the galaxies' motions from 13 billion years in the past to the present day.

Black holes' magnetism surprisingly wimpy

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 2:16pm
Black holes are famous for their muscle: an intense gravitational pull known to gobble up entire stars and launch streams of matter into space at almost the speed of light. It turns out the reality may not live up to the hype.

Galaxy growth in a massive halo in the first billion years of cosmic history

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 2:07pm
Observations of two galaxies made with the National Science Foundation-funded Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) radio telescope suggest that large galaxies formed faster than scientists had previously thought.

Mars' atmosphere well protected from the solar wind

Thu, 12/07/2017 - 2:05pm
Despite the absence of a global Earth-like magnetic dipole, the Martian atmosphere is well protected from the effects of the solar wind on ion escape from the planet. New research shows this using measurements from the Swedish particle instrument ASPERA-3 on the Mars Express spacecraft.

NASA's SuperTIGER balloon flies again to study heavy cosmic particles

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 4:22pm
A science team in Antarctica is preparing to fly SuperTIGER, a balloon-borne instrument designed to collect heavy high-energy particles from beyond the solar system that constantly bombard Earth's atmosphere.

Heavy metal: How first supernovae altered early star formation

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 2:23pm
An international team of researchers ran multi-scale, multi-physics 2-D and 3-D simulations to illustrate how heavy metals expelled from exploding supernovae held the first stars in the universe regulate subsequent star formation and influence the appearance of galaxies in the process.

ALMA finds massive primordial galaxies swimming in vast ocean of dark matter

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 1:20pm
New observations push back the epoch of massive-galaxy formation even further by identifying two giant galaxies seen when the universe was only 780 million years old, or about 5 percent its current age.

Scientists observe supermassive black hole in infant universe

Wed, 12/06/2017 - 1:19pm
A team of astronomers has detected the most distant supermassive black hole ever observed. The black hole sits in the center of an ultrabright quasar and presents a puzzle as to how such a huge object could have grown so quickly.